I’m trying to move my outfits in a direction of greater visual interest, while keeping things casual and wearable (i.e. not trying to expand my styling skills to outfits that are just meant for photoshoots).
“Visual interest” is really vague, so a framework I like to think of things in is creating outfits that feel like a storybook character outfit a la the costuming in Pushing Daisies (RIP), Laika, Fantastic Beasts, or any plethora of historically inspired / fantastical media.
That being said, I also keep things toned down enough to not look like I’m literally on my way to a costume party when I’m going to the office.
I personally enjoy distilling what defines a style, and find that having a framework to work with makes it easier to create outfits on a day to day basis. Do you need to have this level of detail mapped out for your own style in order to live a happy life? Do you even need a defined personal style at all? Definitely not!
TLDR / just show me pictures.
That phrase which you will see thrown around on this site is not the most concrete. I just couldn’t think of a better, succinct descriptor. I mostly like to try and dress in this style, although I do foray into vaguely gothy/witchy styles (pinterest board) and retro inspired casual styles (pinterest board), some combination of these, or if I’m not feeling any of them, just whatever.
“Storybook style” is low-fuss looks with vintage-inspired silhouettes, fall colors, and witchy details. It’s comfortable, romantic, and earthy but not too hippie-bohemian. I have an actively-edited inspiration board for it on Pinterest.
For resources to help curate your own wardrobe, see the Style Resources page. This is the second ‘style phase’ I’ve been in since I started focusing on clothes around 2016. Previously I was into minimal witchy looks and wore a lot of black and gray knitwear and loose silhouettes.
- comfortable/low-fuss – no stiletto heels here. While not everything has a stretch waistband, I try to keep the outfits grounded enough that it feels like you can still do things in them.
- romantic – generally leaning towards the feminine in both silhouettes (e.g. full volume midi skirts) and details, as well as more vintage inspired than futuristic (e.g. button closures instead of zippers, generally less techwear fabrics, slightly more dressy end of casual)
- earthy – I’m really into earth tones and colors that remind me of autumn leaves. I primarily have items in burnt orange, olive and spruce greens, rust, tan, cream, and black. I also enjoy floral and botanical prints. (I don’t live in a curated Instagram feed / Wes Anderson set, so I have items outside these colors, but I find that generally keeping to a limited palette makes it a lot easier to make visually cohesive outfits.) Fabrics with rich textures that aren’t too sleek.
- but not too hippie – despite all the earth tones and lack of button-down shirts, staying more in a neat look and generally incorporating some structured items
- witchy details – mostly in jewelry, i.e. things with celestial and botanical motifs, hand and eye motifs, antiqued styling. And of course I love me some black pointed-toe/lace-up boots.
Of course I have pieces that don’t fit into these categories, but these are items that I feel are important to the overall aesthetic of my wardrobe. I’ve definitely been more drawn to bottom items as the focus of outfits.
- Knit tops (for a more relaxed feel vs button down shirts. Also tbh these are just easier to fit)
- A-line midi skirts
- High-waisted relaxed fit trousers
- Ankle boots with taller (5″-6″) shafts
- Hats and headbands (Specifically vintage-y hats like wool panama hats or berets. Admittedly I don’t wear these super often because they don’t mesh with my commute very well.)
- Witchy jewelry (pieces with a bohemian aesthetic featuring botanical, celestial, eyeball, hand, snake, owl, etc motifs)
- Relatively textured fabrics like chunky knits, corduroy, linen, and eyelet
Getting round wire-frame retro style glasses (mine are the Warby Parker low nose bridge women’s “Milton” frames, which sadly have been discontinued) and bangs has also made a big impact on my look. The thin, light colored frames open up my face and the round shape goes well with the straighter line introduced by the bangs. I think both work towards the “vaguely vintage” component of the aesthetic I strive for. Given the bangs + glasses, for makeup I like wearing red lipstick, but tend to keep everything else pretty minimal since there’s a lot of framing around my face already.
A concept I’ve found interesting was a list for “what makes a place magical”, written by James Talbot for the development of the Casa Neverlandia art house. I think a lot of it is also applicable to a wardrobe (many thanks to u/weph for sharing the list on reddit) or any area of visual design, really. Lots of good food for thought around how to enrich an outfit in different ways.
- @jerianie really embodies the wearable storybook aesthetic, with a warm color palette and inspiring forest backgrounds (she’s based in Finland)
- @whatbeckywore is one of my favorite accounts for styling inspiration for casual and on-trend basics. She does a lot of cute-and-a-little-bit-punk looks.
- @catinawitchhat has a fantasy-inspired style which doesn’t really work for my personal definition of wearable, but her outfits are are excellent examples of layering, accessorizing, and using different textures, as well as creating a look to match a setting/character/feeling
- I enjoy following historical fashion and museum accounts like the Museum at FIT, the Met Costume Institute, or the Bata Shoe Museum
For a list of other blogs and non-career-instagrammer outfit diary accounts in the same vein as mine that I enjoy reading for styling process food-for-thought, see the Style Resources page.
I live near San Francisco, so for 90% of the year, the weather is between 40F and 85F. However, I walk and take public transit everywhere, with the occasional Lyft. I work in a “wear what you want within reason” office where it’s common to see people in sweatpants and house slippers next to people in (California) business casual. I don’t have any kids or pets.
I’m not a hardcore minimalist, but I do share a ~400 sq ft apartment with my boyfriend, so I limit what clothes I have out so that I don’t end up with piles of clothes tumbling off of every surface.
What’s actually in my closet?
See items I’ve worn recently including brands and wear counts at the following links (I would embed these directly on this page, but I’m on a WordPress plan that doesn’t support plugins). These are views into my Airtable base that I use to keep track of my wardrobe. Learn more at the Wardrobe Tracking page. These views are easier to work with on desktop, where you can zoom in and out of the browser to adjust how many tiles you can see at once. (hold down cmd or ctrl key while then hitting the + or – key)
These are only my “outfit” items, currently hovering around 225 pieces including all accessories like jewelry, though not including underwear and plain socks. I also have an additional ~60 pieces that are loungewear and activewear which I don’t track as part of outfits and don’t have photos of.
It’s a lot of stuff! I am in the process of paring down a bit because having more breathing space in a small apartment is nice, but I’m of the philosophy that if you have space for your stuff and actually wear it, then that’s totally fine. There isn’t like, a magic holy number of pieces that you need to get to.
- Clothing and accessories worn in the past 30 days
- Just clothing worn in past 30 days
- A spreadsheet-like view of my Current Wardrobe items including fields for size, price, general notes, brand, fabric, color, temperature bucket(s) it’s suited for, various wear count statistics (per month and year, wear rate, cost-per-wear), various fields for ease of filtering items (style category, whether it was worn in the past 30 days, whether it’s an accessory or clothing item, etc)
- Item Gallery All items, which you can filter manually by category, tag, etc.